Christian Financial Advice and Biblical Stewardship

When Money Is Thin This Season of Giving

Woman holding open an empty wallet

The holiday season is known to be a time of giving to loved ones and to those who might be financially struggling, such as people in rescue missions, children’s homes, or other low-income outreach settings. In this season of giving, you may find yourself struggling financially, and you may be worried that you will not be able to give to others. Rest assured, there are many meaningful things you can do this season of giving even if you find money is thin this holiday season:

Season of Giving

You do not have to purchase gifts for others in order to give something valuable this holiday season. Many of the most meaningful things you can give others will not cost you any money. You can give your time, encouragement, and hands to those who are in need. After all, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the economy in many ways. Growing up, my family was never wealthy; however, my mother crafted many ways to still give on a tight budget. 

The number one thing you can give this holiday season is your time to others. Maybe your aunt, uncle, or grandma is visiting this Christmas. Your loved ones understand if you are struggling financially. They love you for you. They do not love you for the gifts you give them. Offering your time to sit and talk with them will be far more meaningful to them than purchasing a present. Maybe you could even help your aunt, uncle, or grandparents craft a scrapbook of their life. You could sit down with them, gather up photographs of their lives, and help them fill out the pages. If scrapbooks are not your thing, you could ask your loved one what they would like to do. A hike, a cooking lesson, or simply coloring together may be exactly the “gift” you can give to your loved one. Memories will be made that will live forever in your own heart as well as in your loved one’s heart. 

Inexpensive Ideas

Another way you can give this season of giving without spending too much money is to deliver “Christmas baskets” to neighbors, family members, or friends. You could pick out a few inexpensive items, such as warm socks, a box of hot cocoa, and cookies, and fancifully place them in a basket. All of this will cost under five dollars, but it will make your loved one feel special that you thought about them. Maybe you enjoy cooking? Your mom, dad, or cousin might have a favorite dish or dessert that only you can make best. You could offer to make them this certain food as their “gift” this year. Simply making homemade cookies or Pillsbury cookies and wrapping them up in festive Christmas bags will bring joy to the hearts of those you give them. Giving to others does not have to stretch your wallet

Free Ideas

Donating items is another great way to give during the holiday season. Before the holidays, you could go through your old clothes, coats, and toys that you do not use anymore. Drop them off at a local rescue mission, children’s hospital, or another outreach program. Your used items will be a nice gift for a child or adult in need. Donating your gently used goods will not cost you any money at all, but it will make the person receiving the item feel happy, warm, and loved. 

Handwriting notes is another free idea. Taking the time to write a handwritten note to a loved one will surely brighten their day. In your note, you can write about all the ways you are thankful for them and how God has blessed you by having them in your life. You could include a photograph, a piece of artwork, a poem, or another item to add more uniqueness to your letter. If you are sending out many notes or letters, avoid generic sayings as your letter should be crafted uniquely for the individual. Your special note will bring joy to your loved one’s heart and they might just send you a note back. Giving to others does not require huge gifts that drain your savings account. The most memorable gifts are the meaningful gifts given to us. I know some of my most meaningful Christmas gifts are the gifts my sister made for me over the years. Hand-making gifts are inexpensive and give you a chance for your creativity to shine through. Woodworking, painting, or jewelry-making are some ideas for homemade gifts; however, the options are limitless. Taking the time to hand-make a gift will truly be a blessing to your loved one.

Furthermore, lending a helping hand is a great way to give to others that will cost you no money at all. Volunteering at a soup kitchen, rescue mission, or children’s hospital are a few ideas. If you wanted to intentionally assist a family member, you could offer to help your dad build a new shed to store his tools in or you could offer to help your mom construct a spice rack for her cooking spices. Maybe you know a married couple with small children who need some time off. Volunteering to babysit their children for the weekend could be the perfect gift for the married couple. This way, the married couple could have some time together without stressing over their kids, and you could have a great day full of adventures with the little ones. If you love animals, you could ask to dog-sit or pet-sit a family or friend’s dog, cat, or another animal while they are away this holiday season. Pet-sitting can be quite expensive if a person hires a professional sitter; however, when you offer to pet-sit their animal, you would not charge them any money at all. It would also be a good time for you to have fun with some dogs, cats, goldfish, or other exotic pets your friends or family members may own. 

Give Your Talents

God has gifted each of us with our own gifts and talents. Maybe you are skilled in photography, singing, or something else. No matter what you are talented in, you could use this as a way of giving this holiday season. A friend of yours may be getting married next year and you are gifted in photography. You could offer to be the photographer of the wedding or offer to photograph engagement photos for them free of charge. Maybe your younger sibling just graduated from college. You could offer to take graduation photos for them and edit them free of charge. If you are gifted in singing, you could write your own Christmas song and sing it for your family at your Christmas get-together. If you love playing piano, you could play a special piece this Christmas season as your holiday gift to your friends and family. Maybe art is more your interest and you love painting landscapes. You could paint pictures for your loved ones and give them to your loved ones free of charge. Whatever talents you have, you can use them to bless others.

The holiday season might be tight this year, but there are still many ways to give to others without spending money or by spending very little. The Lord tells us this truth, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b). You do not have to give expensive items or throw elaborate parties in order for your loved ones to feel loved. You can give your time, encouragement, love, and talents this season of giving even when money is thin, and these gifts will be far more memorable to your loved ones than the latest smartphone. 

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Stas_V


Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Christian Ministry and is currently working toward her Master’s Degree. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is probably embarking on an adventure.




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